I’ve always wanted to retire early, the thought of working into my late sixties fills me with fear. Not only do I have a selection of hobbies and bucket list things that I want to do, I also want the freedom to make my own choices. Today, I have to work as I don’t have the financial resources to pay for my life, and my children. Hopefully in the future, I will be able to make the choice of whether I want to work. So much of our life is taken up by work. There is very little freedom to do the things that you want to do.
My dad took his freedom to the extreme by retiring at the age of 45. My farther worked as a Sales Executive in London. He didn’t go to University, and instead went straight into the business of selling. He worked hard, but he worked until the age of 45, after which he sold his company and retired.
When he retired most people thought he was crazy and he’d be back in the office in a few months. Did ever work again? Yes he did, but he never worked in an office again. Below are his ten thoughts on retiring early.
Getting Up Early
Like my father, I work in the evening. I would go as far as to say, I hate going to bed, but I also hate getting out of bed in the morning. My father was the same, he preferred working late into the evening and hated getting up early in the morning, especially on a Monday morning.
Once he retired, like many people, I thought he would sleep in as much as he wanted and go to bed late. However, to I think everyone’s utter surprise, he used to wake up early, breathe in the morning air and go to bed earlier than ever.
He Loved The Freedom
My dad used to work every hour god sent. He loved his work and loved working, but he hated that Sunday feeling when he was having a bad week, that he had to go to work the next day. He had no choice, if he wasn’t there, the company would not run, would not grow and would not be successful.
Monday was that dreaded day when he was working, but it became his favourite day of the week when he retired. On a Monday, he would often be seen doing all the things that you and I would be doing at the weekend. He used to tell me that Monday morning was the best day to go to the supermarket as it wasn’t busy, everyone else was at work.
No One Understood
The second my dad announced his retirement, everyone thought he was crazy. They thought he had taken a knock to the head and lost his marbles. No one could understand why he wanted to go from working eighty to one-hundred hour weeks, to retiring and doing nothing.
In the early days after he retired, he would often meet his friends and old clients for lunch. Often they would spend half the lunch suggesting job offers that he could do, or potential companies that he could set up.
As much as my dad said he wasn’t interest, the offers kept coming. It wasn’t until a good few years later that people accepted he had no interest in working again.
My dad was super busy throughout his career. If he wasn’t working, he was helping my brother and I grow up. When he retired, he was even more active. If he wasn’t helping my brother and I grow up, he was working on his bucket list of things that he wanted to do.
There was learning to sail, learning to ski, a selection of countries that he wanted to visit including things like walking to Everest Base camp. At 45 he still had the fitness to be able to do this easily, and with him being retired, he had the three weeks it too achieve. I don’t think he would have been able to achieve this in his late 60’s.
My dad always wanted to complete an Ironman. I have no clue why. The thought of a 2.4-mile swim, a 110-mile bike ride and then a full marathon to finish it off, fills me with fear, but he wanted to complete it, and thus he did.
The problem with fitness, it’s very difficult to get fit when you are stuck to a chair for 12 hours a day, five or six days a week. Staying fit becomes a challenge. Moreover, you can’t always eat healthy at work. I don’t know his exact weight, but he was a good 20kg overweight when he was working. Once he retired, he was in good shape from about a year after he started working out.
My dad wore a suit and tie every day. He believed that wearing a suit made him look professional, he used to say, dress professional and you’ll be taken seriously as a professional. He used to hundreds of suits that he used to rotate on a daily basis.
Once he retired, I don’t remember him ever wearing a suit again.
I was speaking to a career coach friend of mine who was talking about the importance of a work-life-balance. My friend suggested that working professionals were above all, interested in a having a work-life balance, to be enjoy work, but also their family life.
My dad did not have this. He was only ever interested in work. His company, his career was his priority and came first above everything else. He would often miss important events. I don’t remember seeing him at all during the week growing up, and while he was around at weekends, his attention wasn’t on us, it was on his emails.
He said he always felt guilty for not being there when needed. Retirement seemed to change everything. Now he spends quality time with my mum where they actually go on holiday together, and has had the time to connect with old college friends. We as children were definitely happy too since he gives more attention to us than before.
My father never once talked seriously about going back to work. At first, I thought he would eventually get tired of retirement and go back to work. In the end, I think he had too much fun in retirement to ever think about going back to work.
Retirement changed everything. He definitely enjoyed a good night sleep and felt refreshed in the morning. Most importantly, he enjoyed his freedom. Suddenly he was not tied to the office and his job.
Early retirement worked out just fine for him, and I’m sure it will work for me to.